07/25/2008 11:00PM

Big Brown has Haskell tune-up


"He's ready to run."

That's what trainer Richard Dutrow Jr. said Saturday morning after watching Big Brown work six furlongs in 1:10.96 at Aqueduct, his last major breeze before his highly anticipated return to the races in Sunday's $1 million Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park on Aug. 3.

It was his fifth breeze since Big Brown was pulled up by jockey Kent Desormeaux in the June 7 Belmont Stakes, ending the colt's bid for the Triple Crown.

Saturday's move was the fastest of three at the distance at Aqueduct and was the strongest move Big Brown has put in since before the Kentucky Derby. Working by himself with exercise rider Michelle Nevin aboard after the renovation break, Big Brown was clocked in fractions of 12.12 seconds, 23.71, 35.16, 47.19, and 58.63. He galloped out seven furlongs in 1:24.90.

"I breezed him by himself. He went great," Dutrow said from Aqueduct. "I seen Michelle's face after the breeze, and that's all I needed to see. He's ready to run. It's all good as far as I see."

Dutrow said that Ian McKinlay, the hoof-lameness specialist who has worked on Big Brown's feet since last year, was going to pull Big Brown's front shoes on Saturday and let the colt's feet "air out a day or two or three." Dutrow added that Big Brown would be re-shod on Wednesday.

Big Brown has had some issues with his front feet, but they seem to be fine at the moment, Dutrow said.

Dutrow said he wasn't 100 percent sure when he was going to ship Big Brown to Monmouth Park. He could get there by Thursday for a possible blowout on Friday or Saturday.

In other Haskell news, Harlem Rocker, undefeated in four starts on dirt, including the Prince of Wales Stakes last out at Fort Erie, is still under consideration for the Haskell, according to trainer Todd Pletcher. Harlem Rocker, whose only loss came on Woodbine's Polytrack in the Queen's Plate Trial, worked four furlongs in 48.90 seconds Saturday morning over Saratoga's main track.

"I talked to Mr. Stronach early this week, and he said he wanted to keep the option open of running in the Haskell until after we worked him on Saturday," Pletcher said, referring to owner Frank Stronach. "I'll talk to Mr. Stronach at the beginning of the week, and we'll make a decision in a few days."

Among those considered definite for the Haskell are Cool Coal Man, Truth Rules, Hey Byrn, and Nistle's Crunch.

- additional reporting by Mike Welsch